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Adventures in Niagara Falls

Well, we had quite the adventurous weekend.

On Thursday morning Evan and I drove to the Buffalo airport to pick up these two cheeky American cats.

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Fabian and Paula. I mentioned in my last post (and several other times) that Paula and I met through our blogs a few years ago and decided that we needed to be real friends. Evan and I met her and Fabian for real a little over two years ago when we stayed with them while we were in Florida, and we had such a good time. We had been talking a lot about them coming to visit us in Ontario, so I was really excited we could finally make it happen. The four of us have only met once before but I feel like we have known them forever. Fabian said this too. It is a cool thing.

I was absolutely giddy as soon as we picked them up, and when I hugged Paula at the airport she was all “Did you just wrap your leg around me?!” Yes, yes I did.

It was convenient to get them in Buffalo because it’s only about a two hour drive from us, and they had never seen Niagara Falls, which is right on the border. So that was the first leg of Paula and Fabian’s Great Canadian Adventure.

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That stuffed parrot is Alan Barkin, and I know Paula is planning on explaining him so I will just briefly tell you that Alan was spending his days in a crane game until they rescued him, and now he is living the life.

Our first stop was the hotel, the Marriott Fallsview on the Canadian side, where we were staying (not to be confused with the Marriott Gateway on the Falls, they are two different hotels). We all bunked in one room to save moolah, and we obviously needed a room with a falls view, because who knows when any of us will be back! Here was our view:

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Pretty great.

After checking in we hit the street. If you’ve never been to Niagara Falls, please know the view is beautiful right from the street.

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None of us had eaten lunch yet so that was our first activity on the agenda. We went to The Secret Garden since we were over in that area and we noticed they had a patio. With interesting trees.

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Fabian and I both ordered the ham and cheese croissant with fries, and I poutined my fries because poutine.

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It was Paula and Fabian’s first poutine experience (first Molson Canadian experience also!) and sadly it was not the best example of poutine. The gravy wasn’t great and the cheese was just shredded cheese and not cheese curds (very important), but they got the idea. The croissant was okay, though for some reason both Fabian and I expected it to be warm and melty and it was cold and dry. Warm and melty would have been better, but what can ya do. Evan loved his fried eggplant sandwich though, so I might dabble up in that if I go there again. And I’ll tell you where the Secret Garden redeemed itself for me, the dessert.

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Just insanely good. An ice cream sandwich with two homemade chocolate chip cookies and cookie dough ice cream.

After lunch we headed over to the Hornblower, the new boat formerly known as the Maid of the Mist. It was definitely a must-do for us, Evan and I haven’t even done it before!

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They hand you some pretty sweet pink ponchos before you get on the boat, since, you know, it is misty.

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The Hornblower goes by the American falls first, and there was a pretty rainbow.

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And then heads over to the horseshoe falls.

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I kind of felt like we were in the middle of a hurricane.

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The entire tour is about 20 minutes or so, but definitely worth it. It’s a good time and I am glad we did it!

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I saw a sign somewhere that said Niagara Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, but it actually is not, though many people feel it should be. It is still quite a natural wonder even if it is not one of THE natural wonders.

After the Hornblower we walked around the falls for a while, looking at all the touristy things and taking advantage of all the photo ops.

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We went to the very end of the street, where the falls start, and I think watching the water rush over the ledge was a highlight for me. It is really crazy how fast it flows over the rocks.

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Pictures do not do it justice. It is amazing and I feel like everyone needs to see it at least once.

We had a fairly late lunch, so after our walk we hit up Spyce Lounge for some pre-dinner drinks. We had a perfect people-watching spot on the patio, with a view of the Fallsview Casino.

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There are no people to watch in the above photo, so you’ll just have to trust me it was good for that.

I eventually switched to beer, but I started with a Caesar.

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Because it’s a drink and a snack all in one!

We stayed for a few rounds and then hit up Coco’s for dinner. It was a bit chilly but we were all on the same page about sitting on the patio. Any time I can patio, I will patio.

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We all shared two kinds of pizza, the Americana (which was really funny because the exact same pizza at Spyce Lounge was called the Great Canadian, so they may want to sync up on that…)

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And also a margherita pizza. I was really impressed with both, definitely would recommend eating there. I also recommend Copacabana Brazilian Steak House, we went there one year for my friend Joanna’s birthday (the time we met Vanilla Ice) and it is EXCELLENT. But we’ve all done the all-you-can-eat Brazilian meat before so we decided to switch it up. And Paula and I both agreed that if we ate too much meat we wouldn’t be able to drink, and that would be no good.

We hung out on the patio drinking and catching up until the place closed down, and then we walked to the falls again for night viewing.

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Obviously much better in person.

We ended the day with a stop in the casino, just to check it out.

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In the morning we pretty much just got up and got ready to go, as we were headed to Evan’s cottage and wanted to have most of the day there. I truly do think that one day in Niagara Falls (not including Niagara on the lake) is enough time to take it all in, unless there is anything specific you want to do (like a wax museum or something). And we even had a celeb sighting! While we were waiting for the hotel valet to bring us the car Joey Pantoliano (The Matrix, The Sopranos, Daredevil, etc) walked right by us. I don’t think I ever would have recognized him but Evan spotted him immediately. He totally recognized Evan recognizing him, but he was on the phone so we didn’t chase him down or anything. Just took a sneaky picture of his back.

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Hard to tell in this photo but he was looking pretty snazzy. Evan, our resident researcher, found out later for us that he was there for a Comic Con Ottawa, and so was Jason Priestley! I wish I had known that earlier because I may have done some stalking. Joey Pants was definitely a good ending to our Niagara time though. On to the cottage!

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All the Paula Fun

As I mentioned previously, after the Harry Potter adventure Evan and I drove over to Paula‘s for a fun night out with her and her husband Fabian.

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As I have said to Paula many times, I love their love.

Paula and I have been following each other’s blogs for about two years, and we are Facebook friends (so obviously that means we are real friends), but we had never met in person. I have been telling Paula for at least a year that whenever I make it out to Florida I would be hitting her up for a fun time, so as soon as I found out I was going for sure I made a point to squeeze that sensual minx into our plans.

It was very trusting of Paula and Fabian to let us sleep over since we had never met before (especially Fabian, since to him I was a complete stranger), but I promised Paula we wouldn’t rob them and she relayed this news to Fabian and he said A-okay.

I was so excited to finally meet her, and of course her ridiculously cute one-eared bunny (who I also follow on Facebook), Georgina Bunnypants. Or just Pants.

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As soon as I entered her house I was all “Where is PANTS?!” and made a beeline over to her cage.

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Paula let  me give her a little treat to warm her up for a snugglefest, since she doesn’t usually like being held. I was excited that she let me pick her up.

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I told her to relax and just enjoy it, but she kept that ear slicked back in protest. It was a satisfactory first snuggle though. Such a little muffin. Our first meeting went just how I envisioned.

I can’t remember the names of all the places Paula and Fabian took us, but we went to all of Paula’s favourite hotspots in downtown Orlando. No more Hungry Howie’s! Paula took us to excellent local places. Our first stop was Mucho, a kind of Mexican pub, and I only know the name because Paula blogged about it.

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Paula made me order her favourite drink, Eola 101 (I kept wanting to call it Ebola), which included tequila and champagne and pure deliciousness. I liked it so much I had two more. And then our group had a tequila shot in celebration of…I don’t know, being awesome I guess. So I was feeling pretty good. So good I was in the mood for kissing roosters.

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We went to a couple of other bars with names I don’t remember, and drank several more drinks that I don’t remember. I will tell you a little secret about Paula. That girl can DRINK. Fun, fun times. And I brought a little gift for Paula, straight from Canada.

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Yes, the glasses. Paula now has her own pair. As you probably know, the glasses make a frequent appearance around here and Paula has commented about them before so I knew she liked them. It was time to pass them down, as they were passed down to me from my good friend Dawn.

Use them wisely Paula, they are hard to find even here! I expect to see them all over your blog, and you should probably wear them when you run your next race.

Fabian liked them also.

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And I gave Paula an example of how they are to properly be used. Here was the target:

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He liked it. I like his muscles.

I had a really, really fun night. I cannot picture it being more fun. Paula and I had so much to talk about and we felt like we knew each other for years. Evan also had a good time bonding with Fabian while Paula and I discussed boring blog stuff.

In fact, we had such a good time that on Saturday night Paula came out to Bradenton to see us!

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It’s over a two hour drive, so you know this means she liked me also. Bradenton is also coincidentally Paula’s hometown, so she showed us all the good places to go downtown, including a local bar the Lost Kangaroo.

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We be sunburnt.

It was the first time Evan and I went out in the downtown area, and I doubt we would have gone out like this ourselves. I was grateful she showed us such a good time.

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She showed us all the good food in Bradenton also. Our next stop included the most amazing garlic knots.

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And the most AMAZING pizza.

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We ate the entire thing. Not a slice left behind.

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Infinitely better than Hungry Howie’s.

And that is all the Paula fun. You can also read her recaps of our adventures here and here. And if you don’t already read her blog, what is wrong with you?! She has been one of my faves for a long time, and our hangouts just solidified this. She is so much fun, and I wish she lived closer to me! Oh well, it gives me an excuse to come back to Florida…

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